I’ve blogged before (here and there) about keyword searches in Firefox. Keyword searches are great because they allow you to perform searches right from your address bar. Simply type your keyword (e.g. I use
g for Google,
a for Answers.com,
wp for Wikipedia, &c.) followed by search terms and you’ll be magically whisked off to your search results. You can set up your own keyword for any site by right-clicking in any search bar and choosing “Add a keyword for this search” from the context menu. By setting up my own keyword searches, I’ve completely eliminated the need for the little search box to the right of my address bar, and, in fact, have removed it from my browser altogether.
Recently I discovered a service that takes this feature to the next level. YubNub, as the service is called, bills itself as a “(social) command line for the web,” and boy does it deliver. You can try the service out right away by going to the YubNub website, but it really becomes useful if you set it up directly in your address bar. I’ve got my Firefox address bar functioning as a YubNub command line, and I’ll mention later a few ways (and what I think is the best way) to do that. But first let me tell you more about the service.
I downloaded the Firebug 1.0 beta the other day and I gotta say it’s fantastic. This is the coolest HTML and CSS debugging tool to come along since the Firefox Web Developer toolbar. In fact, my Web Developer toolbar hasn’t seen much use this past week since I’ve started using Firebug.
Basically, Firebug lets you inspect any element on a web page. Once you’ve selected an element to inspect, Firebug shows you where the element is in the source code and gives you a breakdown of all the style rules that apply to the element, including inherited rules. At any time you can make changes to the markup and the style and see those changes reflected immediately in the browser, just like the “Edit CSS” tool in the Web Developer toolbar.
I know I’m a little behind the times here. I was aware of this about five minutes after it happened, but I haven’t had time to blog about it until tonight. Firefox 2 was officially released over a week ago.
To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with this release. Sure, it has a slick new look and some new bells and whistles (e.g., in-line spell check, session restore, and anti-phishing), but it’s lacking in one area that makes all the difference for me: XML feed support. To be fair, it’s got better support for feeds than Firefox 1.5, but this is one area where I’m sad to say Internet Explorer 7 is winning.
Lifehacker already voiced a few of my complaints about Firefox 2’s feed support (or lack thereof), but one thing they failed to mention is that Firefox 2 has poor support for third-party feed readers. I use Mozilla Thunderbird to manage my feeds, and, paradoxically, Firefox can’t add feed subscriptions to Thunderbird. This bug really should’ve been a version 2 release blocker, but somehow it sailed right through without being noticed. Hopefully they’ll fix this bug in a 2.0.1 release or something soon.
Other than that (and a minor unsettledness about the new look), I do love the browser and recommend that everyone download it as soon as possible. Happy browsing!
A few more notes about the new design, and then I’ll stop yakking about it; I promise. I’ve now tested the site in Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7 (rc1), Firefox 1.5, Firefox 2 (rc2), Opera 9, and Safari 1.2. It passes with flying colors in all browsers, with the exception of IE6, where it doesn’t actually look half bad—the layout itself is fine but the PNG images puke big bluish blocks all over where they should be transparent. Sometime down the road I may decide to replace all the PNGs with something else in IE6 (using conditional comments or some other such hack), but IE7 is coming this month and will be a critical automatic update, so I’m not going to sweat about it too much.
Unbeknownst to me, the new design wasn’t at first valid XHTML and CSS. I took care of that this morning by properly closing a few <li> tags, fixing a few tag IDs, properly enclosing a couple of comment form elements inside a block level element, and fixing a few malformed CSS statements.
Last but not least, I should mention that the new design uses a couple of new fonts: Cambria and Calibri. Microsoft is releasing six new fonts with Windows Vista and many people (myself included) are hoping they become widely distributed enough to use them in web pages. If you don’t have these fonts, the new design properly degrades to using Georgia and Trebuchet MS instead, which I think looks pretty good, so you’re not missing out on much. To get the full effect, however, I recommend you download the new fonts if you can. They have been released unofficially to the public in the Vista betas and can be found on the web with a little effort.